"Weighing the ‘Burden of "Acting White" ’: Are There Race Differences in Attitudes toward Education?" by Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig, in Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (Spring 1997), John Wiley & Sons, 605 Third Ave., New York, N.Y. 10158.
It is common wisdom these days that many Washington, D.C. It was echoed in some black students underachieve in school subsequent studies and later got played up in because they fear being accused of "acting newspapers and newsmagazines. But the eviwhite." The thesis was advanced in a 1986 dence for it as a pervasive nationwide phestudy of a nearly all-black high school in nomenon "is not compelling," assert Cook and Ludwig, professors of public policy at Duke University and Georgetown University, respectively.
They base their case on a study of almost 25,000 public and private school students who were tracked, starting in 1988, from the eighth grade to graduation. The black students’ educational aspirations were as high in 1988 as the (non-Hispanic) whites’: about 60 percent expected to stay in school and earn a college degree. Four years later, nearly 10 percent of the black students had dropped out, compared with almost seven percent of the white ones—a small difference that disappears when only youths with similar family characteristics (e.g., income, father’s presence in the household) were compared.
Black students seem to work as hard as white ones, the authors say. In 1990, 36 percent of black 10th-graders reported skipping a class, 65 percent spent at least two hours a week on homework, and 28 percent missed (according to school transcripts) more than 10 days of school during the year. Those percentages (unadjusted for family background) were about the same for whites.
Nor were black parents any less involved in their children’s education than white parents, as measured by such things as attending school events and checking homework.
High school students are notoriously cliquish, but high-achieving black students do not seem to incur a penalty in popularity among their classmates. The eight percent of black 10th-graders (like the seven percent of white ones) who belonged to academic honor societies were less likely than their classmates to perceive themselves as unpopular. Interestingly, at predominantly white schools, black students’ "popularity" was not enhanced by membership in honor societies, while at predominantly black schools, it was.